Something sets this Vermont pasture apart. All these cows are Japanese.
"These animals, all their ancestors came from Japan," said Sheila Patinkin of Wagyu Cows in Springfield. They're Vermont's first small, artisan herd of full blooded Wagyu beef cattle. "It's the caviar of the beef world, doesn't get any better," said Patinkin.
hese docile cows aren't shipped from Japan -- they're born here. All because of one head mama -- Sheila Patinkin. She bought her first Wagyu embryos from another breeder in Washington in 2008. "Japan won't let any of these animals out. So what we've got now is what we're going to have. There's no more embryos, no more livestock, no more semen. They've closed the door, this is it since 1980."
But that doesn't faze Patinkin. She says she's known for doing things the hard way -- after she had four kids she went to medical school and became a pediatrician. Now her genetics background is coming in handy -- as she breeds these rare cows that end up on the plates of only the finest dining facilities in places like Boston and New York City.
"They don't look the same and produce a product that is far superior," said the herd's manager Philip Ranney. On this day Patinkin and her two person crew were weighing the first group of cows that will be headed to the butcher. "They mature slowly we don't push them as hard as traditional beef farmers angus," said Ranney.
In Japan these cows drink beer and get regular massages, keeping the cows calm produces the best quality of meat. Here, it's a healthy diet of grass, grain and a lot of love. A big endeavor that's going to be worth the payout. In a restaurant the average 8-oz filet mignon cost $35, the 100-percent Wagyu cut of the same size would cost $100.
"All that intramuscular fat brings the flavor to the steak, it's that beautiful white omega 3 fat that makes it a wonderful product," said Patinkin.
Not all the cows on the Spring Brook farm are Wagyu -- you can find many different kinds in the mix. "Some from surrogate mamas that bear no genetic relationship but carry the embryos and then out comes a full blood Wagyu and they think it's their baby they don't know any better. I fell in love with the breed, it's docile, it's gentle, it's one of the nicest beef breeds out there," remarked Patinkin.
It's a niche Vermont product that's a cut above the rest. The first Wagyu beef will be available on Easter Sunday.
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